Media and Press

How a San Antonio-Built Robot Mower Helps Secure Our Solar Power Future

Using their autonomous mowing device, San Antonio based Renu Robotics has managed to cut back on the thousands of dollars usually spent on maintaining solar farms around the country.

Believe me, I tried, but this is what happens when you overthink the process of how Renu Robotics is changing the solar industry.

Using their autonomous mowing device, San Antonio based Renu Robotics has managed to cut back on the thousands of dollars usually spent on maintaining solar farms around the country.

“It’s been more of a struggle than we anticipated, but I think people now understand we’re on the forefront of something that’s going to change energy.”

You’re probably wondering how much of a difference cutting the grass can make, well I’m glad you asked.

Behind only the money spent on land leases, mowing is the second costliest maintenance expense for any solar farm. Weeds apparently can cause hotspots and eventually fires.

Which brings us to CEO Tim Matus and his team at Renu Robotics, who since August of 2019 have studied the nation’s leaders in autonomous vehicles before creating the RenuBot.

Standing just under 25 inches tall and weighing about 1,100 lbs., the RenuBot cuts more than 100 acres per month and has a life span of about ten years. Spending about a third of the power of a Tesla motor, Matus says the reality is automation makes sense.

“We analyzed the market and although it can be a lot of work at first, we’re able to reduce about 20,000 lbs. of CO2/year on each machine,” Matus said.

There are two patents pending and so far three RenuBots have been sold in just the past month generating about $250,000 in revenue. Proposals have been made for $12.5 million worth of product with seven letters of intent written by energy companies worth well into the millions.

“It’s been more of a struggle than we anticipated, but I think people now understand we’re on the forefront of something that’s going to change energy,” Matus said.

In coming months, Matus says he hopes to be the go-to for all things solar maintenance. That includes a bot that sprays pesticides, cleans, inspects and offers security.

A software program developed in house helps track each bot and coordinates the most efficient routes to take. Around the country, companies like John Deere and Alamo developed their own remote-controlled mowers, as well as SPIDER Slope Mowers out of the Czech Republic.

Renu Robotics is currently raising funding on MicroVentures, a crowdfunding and venture capital platform based in Austin and San Francisco. It had nearly $80,000 raised from 232 investors as of Feb. 11. Matus says the global autonomous robot market is worth more than $5 billion, but is expected to reach $11.9 billion by 2024.

With more than 39,000 megawatts of solar projects operating in the country, there’s plenty of work to go around.

At the moment, solar grid can power 15.6 million homes, but that’s barely scratching the surface when you think it’s only 2 percent of the total electricity we make.

In the next 30 years however, experts say we could see solar climb from 11 to 48 percent of the renewable energy we use.

“We are right in the middle of an economic driver and San Antonio is getting a chance to be a part of it,” Matus said.

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